Lets hope that your hypothetical proves more or less correct. For what it is worth, on the UK side of things, the issue appears slightly more complicated than a straight thumbs up for Huawei. Take, for example, this report (hat tip to a commentator on the Kiwiblog thread dedicated to the subject):
"BRITAIN’S intelligence services were forced to erect a costly, resource-intensive auditing structure to ensure Huawei did not steal secrets after the Chinese telco was allowed to take part in a British broadband project.
As Foreign Minister Bob Carr moved to soothe tensions with Beijing, encouraging Huawei to expand its commercial operations in Australia in lieu of lucrative National Broadband Network contracts, the country’s top signals intelligence expert, Des Ball, said yesterday there was “no doubt” Huawei partnered with China’s espionage services.
Professor Ball, of Australian National University, said officers from Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, the country’s top signals intelligence agency, had told him they had to check all the servers, routers, chips and hardware installed by Huawei after the company was allowed to take part in a large-scale broadband project in Britain. “And they still don’t have any guarantee they picked everything up,” he said.
Sources have told The Australian the British experience, and in particular the auditing impost on intelligence services, was a major factor in the decision to exclude Huawei from the NBN."
For the record, Desmond Ball is a world class security analyst, and I would doubt that he would take kindly to being labeled a corporate shill.
Anyway, more grist for the mill, particularly because the security vetting in the UK happened after (at great cost), rather than before Huawei was awarded IT contracts there. Perhaps that is what is happening or is supposed to happen in NZ because the National government believes that even with the costs of ex post forensic auditing the overall cost of the Huawei contracts are less than the bids of other competitors.
If that is the case, then presumably the GCSB/SIS will be up to the job.
Just one small correction to what seems to be a general belief. The CIA did not advise the Bush 43 administration that Saddam had WMD. To the contrary. Its senior analysts told then CIA-director George Tenet and the NSC that Saddam had some old stockpiles that were deteriorating to the point of dangerous unreliability and that they would only be used in the event of an attack. They also said that he had no nukes. Cheney and Rumsfeld were not happy with that and ordered Tenet to cherry-pick snippets of a number of analyses done over the previous decade in order to make a case for war. Many of the cherry-picked analyses were of the "what if" and game scenario variety rather than hard expositions of known facts (since it is the analysts responsibility to futures forecast a range of possible scenarios).
That cherry picked "evidence" was provided to the hapless Colin Powell, who was kept out of the loop by Tenet and so believed that the cut and paste reports that he was provided represented the true thoughts of the analytic community. Rumsfeld's minions in OSD then piled on doctored imagery to support the case, all of which was bolstered by the claims of some dubious Iraqi exiles who said that they were in meetings with Saddam and his military leaders when discussing how to use WMD. These claims were subsequently found to be lies.
Then Karl Rowe got Scooter Libby to out former human intelligence collector Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband's (a former ambassador) report that Iraq had no huge yellowcake supplies that it was refining into weapons grade material. Outing Plame, a twenty year non-official cover (NOC) operator, exposed all of the intelligence networks she had cultivated in the ME during her time there (mostly posing as an oil executive). Within days many of her contacts in places like Syria and Egypt simply vanished.
My point being that, from my experience in and outside the machine, the intelligence community works hard to get the facts without prejudice. They report the good news, the bad news and everything in between to the political decision-makers who oversee them. The decision-makers make the final call on any assessment, and should take responsibility for that call if things turn to custard.
Bush 43 did not, and instead blamed the intelligence for "faulty" information. That, coupled with the Plame outing, caused an open revolt within the clandestine services that only began to be repaired once he left office.
The moral of the story is that although Western professional intelligence agencies operate in a highly political environment, their relative autonomy and neutrality when making threat assessments is vital for strategic planning and appropriate tactical responses. Prejudice does not fit into this picture--it is professionally anthem to color reports wit racial or ethnic prejudice. What politicians do with the information provided is another matter, and as I said before, they often are not as honest, dispassionate or professional when doing so.
I realize that there are many who think that it is all a matter of US corporate interests pulling the strings to secure market share in the face of foreign competition, but from my perspective the issue is a bit more complex than that.
Be they right or wrong, the US and Australian assessments on Huawei should have been shared with the GCSB and SIS, who presumably informed the PM about the concerns in some classified detail. It would therefore be nice to know if this did in fact happen and if so, why the PM chose to ignore those concerns. He may have strong reason to support the Huawei contracts, but it would be good to hear how he came to that position in light of the suspicions about Huawei serving as a SIGINT front of the PRC.
Russell: I suggest you do some more reading on Huawei's connections with Chinese intelligence. There have been several reports done by US, UK and Australia security agencies outlining their concerns. These are not done out of anti-Chinese prejudice. Government security and intelligence agencies do not deal in cultural prejudice (although some policy-makers might). They deal in facts, and as far as NZ's major security partners are concerned, the facts speak to Hauwai being a possible front for SIGINT intercepts of behalf of the Chinese state as it moves to assert its global presence. Remember: unlike NZ and its Echelon partners, the PRC has to be completely self-reliant when it comes to SIGINT and TECHINT and is playing catch-up in those two fields. It cannot be a great power without them.
As for Echelon, I was at pains to tell the reporter that--should the suspicions about Huawei prove true, and that remains to be seen--Huawei's entry to the NZ IT market would be an indirect, rather than direct way of accessing Echelon-related intelligence (as well as commercial and diplomatic intelligence not related to Echelon). If they provide the platforms on which Crown agencies operate and/or on which individuals or private agencies of import conduct their personal and commercial business, then the field is opened for SIGINT collection via both front and back-door entry to these communications.
I do agree that Ms. Adams was out of her depth, especially when she said that she did not know about the Australian security concerns.
Ok Rich. Understood now. Given the vilification that Hager is being subjected to bythe government and its lap dogs like Espiner and Small (who seem to think that their all expenses paid PR junkets to a secure bubble in Afghanistan qualify them as war correspondents), I feel compelled to jump in to defend what is a meticulously researched book. And again: I do not share, by a country mile, Hager's ideology. I just repsect honest reporting (sans the editorialising).
Answer to Rich's question, succinctly: never. It is the defining attirbute of democratic civil-military relations that, for better or worse, the security agencies subordinate themselves to the government of the day, everday, even if speaking in generalities as I have mentioned above. Misleading and lying to the civilian elected leadership strikes to the heart of democratic governance.
I have personal professional experience with this issue at some length, and must say that comments like Rich's make me dispair over the quality of democratic knowledge in NZ society. Plus, here again, it is clear that Rich has not read the book so is allowing his ideological prejudices to speak for him. To which I say: forget the messenger, concentrate on the facts as outlined in the book that you have not read. Geez.
Hager's beef (as was that of Jon Stephenson) is not with the field commanders or the troops but with the HQ brass. Hager editorialises a bit too much to my liking since I do not share his ideology, but he has been pretty clear about where the blame for the disjuncture between the NZDF rheotric and the reality regarding Afghanistan (and the War on Terrorism) really lies. What is alarming is that PM Key appears to not be concerned that there has been a decade of PR lies and spin coming out of HQ regarding the mission (as defined in the SOFA and ROEs that both Labour and National agreed to at the point of deployment).
It is precisely the SOFA and ROE authorised by the respective governments of the day that was systematically violated by the NZDF (the authorisation of the GCSB to detail personnel to front line positions is more murky). The evidence in the book is pretty damning on this point.
And well documented and voluminous the evidence is. As I said in my prior post on this thread, the material Mr. Hager has gathered is extremely rich and detailed, comprising a mix of government documents, interviews, wikileaks material, secondary sources and even Facebook records. They are not mere snippets, but are, in fact, near encyclopaedic.
This leads me to believe that your assertions are made without having read the book and instead are made from having read newspaper reports of its contents. That is no substitute for a full read, and opining without having done so leaves you vulnerable to accusations of being ignorant of the material you comment about. Not a good look.
I hesitate to use rough language in mixed country, but you sir, appear to be what you you label Mr. Hager to be.
Having read some extended exceprts of the book, which is richly documented, I am not surprised that the collaboration between the NZDF and GCSB and the US and UK counterparts was much more extensive than publicly revealed. But the deliberate misleading or obfuscation by the NZDF and GCSB brass to the civilian political leadership on what exactly its personnel were doing in Afghanistan strikes at the heart of democratic civil-military relations and should be cause for serious alarm because it is evidence of praetorian tendencies within the security apparatus. That is anethema to democratic accountability and governance.
There is a saying in the intel business that some things are too important to be left to politicians. In order to reconcile the need for operational secrecy with democratic accountability, security leaders brief the civilian leadership on the broad generalities of the mission without getting into specifics unless the latter ask for them. This allows the civilian authorities to practice plausible deniability if things hit the fan, which in turn permits the security leadership to make excuses based on mission creep, rogue elements, etc.
Either the NZDF and GCSB leaders did this and the politicians played (and are playing) along, or they lied. I am hoping that the former is the case. But the fact that Hager was given reams of govt documents and other sensitive material, coupled with his use of confidental informants, suggests that all is not well within the ranks of these two agencies (to which we can add the SIS leaks about the suspected Israeli spies).
I guess we can be thankful that Mr. Hager did not uncover evidence of NZ involvement in illegal rendition, black sites and sending people to Guantanamo Bay. But then again, perhaps this is only the tip of the iceberg. One thing is certain: there is a culture of impunity within certain sectors of the foreign policy and security community that sees public concerns about NZ's acitivities in those areas as a small nuisance on the way to currying favor with larger partners (hence the emphasis on PR spin). That much is amply evident in the book.
I am going to break it to you gently. In dictatorships the political elite do as they please and the masses suffer the consequences, be it foreign or domestic in origin. In democracies the political elite are required to be transparent and accountable in their decision-making. If Key and co. put NZ at risk because of its redeployment decision, misrepresented the nature of the deployment and then lied to cover it up, well, only an authoritarian minded person would think that was OK.
The issue is that the National government sold the SAS re-deployment under false pretenses (i.e., that they would only be "trainers" that "assist" the Afghan CRU on counter-terrorism operations that do not involve the SAS capturing or detaining prisoners). As it turns out, as Wayne Mapp has now been forced to admit, it leads combat missions, kills insurgents and terrorist suspects and captures prisoners before handing them over the Afghan or US security officials.
The National government and (sadly) NZDF leadership have repeatedly misled the public on the true nature of these operations as well as what Rules of Engagement and Operating Procedures were agreed to when the redeployment was authorised in 2009 (a re-deployment opposed by Labour on what looks to be its knowledge of the Geneva Convention "problems" inherent in the mission).
All Jon Stephenson has done has exposed the official lies and deceit. He has done so without impugning the professionalism and ethics of the SAS itself. In other words, he has done what any honest investigative journalist should do, which is uncover the truth behind the official story. The government may not like that, but it is it that created the problem in the first place by not being upfront about the reasons and rules on which the redeployment decision was based. Slandering him does not alter that fact.